Thursday, February 25, 2010

life lessons from the olympics

With the Olympics happening probably as close to my hometown as they will ever get, I've been thinking about them a lot lately. They're just a four (or so) hour drive away, and a number of people I know have gone to something that was part of the Olympics. I have to say, I've gotten caught up in the excitement over things too. It's kind of exciting to have them ahppening so close and to be able to watch the live coverage of events.

All of the excitement has also made me wonder about things.

What is it about the Olympics that brings a nation together? We go from competing against other towns, cities, provinces, regions to one team and one nation that collectively soars with good performance and deflates when things go wrong for our athletes. For just over two weeks we are unified. And for Canadians, we become unusually patriotic - wearing red and white and maple leafs, screaming "GO Canada GO!" at our TV or computer screens or from the stands, singing our national anthemn when we often just listen to it at other times it is played. Why this change?

But, the big question I've been wondering about is why this change just seems to be so temporary. Come the end of the Olympics we all go back to our normal way of life. It seems like the days of Olympics bring about only a temporary change in how we live. None of the change seems to be important enough to be long lasting.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought about how it applied to our lives as followers of Christ as well. How often do we go to retreats or conferences or rallies and get all excited and passionate, only to come home a few days or hours later and go back to normal life as if nothing changed? For those hours or days we were on fire and we were sold out, much like people are right now in cheering for their country at the Olympics. But, once the retreat or conference or rally is over we leave and walk back into "normal" life as if nothing has changed - much the same as many of us will do once the Olympics are over.

Why do we do this? Why does the excitement and passion not carry over into our everyday lives? I realize that often those big events are mountain top experiences and we cannot live the Christian life on the mountain top, but shouldn't those mountain top experiences still have an impact on our day-to-day lives as we go forward? If there truly was change that comes from the retreats, conferences, or rallies we attend shouldn't it impact everything about us and how we live our lives?

Why does there seem to be this disconnect?

Is there something we can do so that this disconnect doesn't continue to happen?

Life in the day-to-day can be hard - it can be boring - it can be filled with things we would rather not do - but I wonder what would happen if even just a small amount of the excitement from our mountain top experiences carried over into that part of lives with us. Scripture records that Moses had to cover his face with a veil when he came down the mountain after meeting with God because his face glowed and the Israelites were afraid. Do we come down from our mountain top times with God with that kind of a visual change in us? Should we?

I know it's easy to say and do things when you're in the midst of a crowd that is excited about Jesus and serving Him with their lives, and it can be much more difficult to practically do it when you aren't surrounded by other believers in your day-to-day life. But, I also believe that if the change that comes at these retreats, conferences, and rallies is authentic then there is no way that it cannot translate back into our day-to-day lives. I would even say, that if it doesn't in some way, maybe the change wasn't authentic.

Every day life is the true testing ground of our faith and our decision to follow God - it is the place where we live out what God teaches us on the mountain top. And it wasn't meant to be lived alone. I wonder if one of the reasons we struggle to translate things back to every day life is that we are trying to do it in isolation. We spend a few hours or days with other followers of Christ where we're encouraged and built up and then we go back to life where we try to do it all on our own. But, what we really need is to keep that community with other followers of Christ in the everyday-ness of life. We were not made to live it alone.

I wonder also if that is the reason for the change that comes after the Olympics. When everyone around us is excited about and cheering for our country, it's easy to get caught up inthe excitement and the patriotism. But, as soon as the reason for it all is gone, we go back to living life and no longer being surrounded by it, and so we go back to our somewhat apathetic self and just go through life without much thought.

God created us to live thei life in community with others. We were not made to live alone.

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